Duke Spotlight: Violence Recovery Program Supports Victims
The team behind Duke University Hospital's Violence Recovery Program provides victims empathy, help moving forward
Led by Duke program manager Uzuri Holder and program coordinators Keith Patterson and Demetrius Lynn, the team supports residents in the city of Durham and Durham County who have experienced violence, with the goal of preventing readmission to the Duke Trauma Center.
Intensive case management starts in the emergency department with the patient and family members. Throughout a hospital stay, program staff meet with the patient and family.
“We’re a friendly face coming in and being helpful,” Patterson said. “Helping to get where they need to go, reassuring them and letting them know they have support inside the hospital.”
Team members follow residents between the ages of 15 and 40 for up to one year. During that time, case management support includes tackling concerns around housing, transportation, mental health, employment, life skills and more.
“The program is based on the premise of helping them complete the goals they set forth,” Holder said. “We want everyone to be healthy mentally, physically and accomplish everything they set forth and be in a space or place that is safest and healthiest for them.”
How the program makes a difference: In its first year, the Violence Recovery Program has engaged with roughly 160 patients, mostly gunshot wound victims. Program staff are a key part of the multidisciplinary team, bridging patients and caregivers.
The lived experiences of staff also help establish rapport.
In 1993, the program’s own Demetrius Lynn, a Durham native, survived a shooting in his hometown. At 20 years old, he was rushed to then-Durham Regional Hospital, where doctors saved his life.
During his three-month hospitalization, he underwent rigorous physical therapy. His family’s unwavering support and encouragement were vital in his recovery. Recognizing the importance of a strong support system, he now dedicates himself to assisting others through the program.
“Imagine being in a situation like that and you have no family support,” said Lynn, now 50. “You have no aspirations or hope of recovery. That’s when the program can come into play to fill the void.”
What’s ahead: Over the past summer, the program extended its services to include individuals who are victims of stabbings. The team aspires to broaden the program’s reach to encompass more programming.
“The next step is really to support all victims of violent crimes,” Holder said. “Right now, we’re at capacity for what we can handle, but that’s the goal.”